Taiwan Church News
February 17 - February 23, 2014
Church Ministry News
Mother Tongue Activists and Writers Urged The Public To Protect And Preserve The Taiwan Languages
Reported by Simon Lin(Kaoshiung) and Chiu Kuo-rong(Taipei)
As February 21st, the International Mother Language Day, is around the corner, many citizen groups including Li Kang Kioh Taiwanese Languages Cultural Foundation(LKK TLCF), Cafe Philo and Taiwan New Century Foundation(TNCF) held conferences urging the public to face the crisis of the Taiwanese Mother Languages and do our best to preserve our cultural assets. The main topic of the joint conference jointly held by LKK TLCF and Cafe Philo at Kaoshiung is "Language is Culture, Resource and Human Rights"; the major thread of the seminar held by TNCF at Taipei is "UN, Taiwan and the Development of Mother Tongue".
Tiun Hok-chu, Vice President of Taiwan South Society and a Lecturer of Medical Taiwanese in Kaoshiung Medical University, lamented that many major Taiwanese languages like the Aboriginal languages, Hakka languages and even the Taiwanese languages will disappear within decades according to an UNESCO report in 2011. Tiun Hok-chu urged the public be courageous to speak, read and write in the Taiwanese languages. Tiun is confident that Taiwanese languages would not die out, if people followed his advice.
Nakao Eki Pacidal, an aboriginal originated from the Amis tribe and a PhD candidate in history at Leiden University in Holland, expressed that many people thought there is only one language used in the Amis. In fact, there are many different Amis languages used in different villages. Many young aboriginal, though they can understand their mother tongue, they dare not speak as they can not pronounce correctly. So, it is very common now for young people to learn mother tongues as a kind of foreign language. Even, it sounds queer, yet it worth to try as the ultimate purpose to let the future generation to learn their mother tongue from their mothers.
Chiung Ji-ying, President of Ziguan Branch in Taiwanese Romanization Association, raised the question: why the public could not expressed their deeper thoughts in Taiwanese languages? But, as a matter of fact, the Taiwanese languages are easily communicated in their daily lives. Chiung stressed that a writing practice in Taiwanese languages is a necessary means to the formation of the Taiwanese mind. He also questioned why the curriculum of foreign languages dominated our current education courses? "How many times we could speak to foreigners in a whole year?", ashed Chiung.
So Ian-deh, President of Luzhu Branch in Taiwanese Romanization Association, analyzed that the major reason the Taiwanese mother tongues not favored in the family education is due to the parents' worry about the issue of competing ability once their children started to learn the mandarin in the primary school or even kindergarten.
Heng Chun He, former Taiwanese Radio Host and an owner of a motorcycle shop, expressed his interest to "play the Taiwanese languages" was ignited from his interaction with the elder generation as he was enthusiastic about Taiwanese old songs. He had produced some funny and cool radio business advertisement in Taiwanese languages. He felt encouraged and comfortable when he learned many young men loved to recite his creative advertisement lines and started to learn the Taiwanese. He said he would keep attracting people to learn the Taiwanese languages with an interesting way on the internet.
Chen Min-jen, a Taiwanese writer, said he never felt inspired or touched when he used to write in the Chinese until he switched to use the Taiwanese instead. Chen also expressed that it is a world class miracle for the Taiwanese literature, since the Taiwan society began to establish the reading clubs in Taiwanese languages from 1991, as many literary writings were delivered in the past 18 years utilizing these dying Taiwanese languages. Chen stressed that people should strive to protect their mother tongues, as it is a happiness and joy to know many more languages as possible as one can.
Ho Hsin-han, Director of The School of Taiwan Languages in Chun Shang Medical University, pointed out that the problematic issue: how not to let the Taiwanese languages wither away, against the backdrops of the China-inclination policy of Taiwan's government, is a worthy task for the concerned people to work out its solution. Ho suggested two concrete measures: First, the Taiwanese languages should be enlisted as a must course in the middle school curriculum and this significance of this language policy should be advised to and grasped by the public; second, the trend of "glocalization" has to be utilized vibrantly and economically to attract young people to learn and use our native languages in the fields of marketing merchandise and mass communication.
Translated by Peter Wolfe
A mother language conference held by LKK TLCF and Cafe Philo at Kaoshiung, commemorating the International Mother Language Day on annual February 21st, hoping the public to learn the importance of reviving the dying mother tongues and protecting the linguistic diversity.
Photo by Simon Lin
Professor Ho Hsin-han, speaking in the seminar of "UN, Taiwan and the Development of Mother Tongue" held by Taiwan New Century Foundation, urged Taiwan society should think about how not to let the Taiwanese languages wither and deteriorate further into extinction.
Photo by Chiu Kuo-rong